Researchers from the University of Warwick and James Cook University Hospital in the UK have initiated the I-WOTCH study aimed at reducing the dependency of people with long-term pain on strong painkillers such as opioids.
Intended to improve the quality of life for such users, the trial will be funded under the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme.
Warwick Medical School associate professor Dr Harbinder Sandhu said: “Evidence suggests that opioids are only effective in the short-term and patients taking them long-term need to manage a range of side-effects and can suffer devastating withdrawal symptoms.
“We hope that the results of our study will be used to help patients with long-term pain in the future.”
The study will recruit 468 volunteers, with a certain number receiving existing GP care, a self-help booklet, and a relaxation CD. While another set proportion will receive GP care, be part of a specifically designed group, and a one-to-one support programme developed at Warwick Medical School.
Daily functioning and opioid use of participants will be monitored during the study.
The support programme will involve a research nurse and a trained individual with chronic pain but has managed to decreased their opioids intake.
It will include sessions for coping methods, stress management, goal setting, mindfulness, posture and movement advice, management of withdrawal symptoms, and pain control after opioids.
Dr Sandhu further added: “Structured, group-based, psycho-educational self-management interventions help people to better manage their daily lives with a long-term condition, including persistent pain, but few of these have specifically targeted patients considering opioid withdrawal.”
The trial will enrol subjects from approximately 100 general practices and community pain/musculoskeletal services from north-east England, north-east London and the West Midlands.